“Bappa ale re ale!” is something my grandmother used to say to me as I sat on her lap in our family’s flat on Laxmi Road. Right down below on the street, the five manache Ganpati and their processions would grace our eyes. Although my grandmother is no longer alive to see those beautiful sights with me, I’m still ever so drawn to them.
Pune’s Ganeshotsav is unrivalled, unparalleled in its scale and glory. Regardless of age, cast, colour, creed, profession, this one beautiful festival entices every single Punekar. It is when Pune comes alive, showing its true colour, as our beloved tusked deity and the monsoon showers both drizzle their love on us. Beyond a festival, it’s a mark of intent and culture for our city. It has its own history. So let’s dive into some fascinating facts of this festival!
The Birthplace of Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav
Pune is that city where Ganeshotsav became a festival to celebrate as a community; in many ways, it was a sign of our resistance against the British empire. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak started the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav as a way of uniting people to fight the British rule. Almost 125 odd years later, it still manages to unite our community for at least ten days. Truly remarkable!
Nowhere in the entire state, or the country for that matter, will you observe this concept of Manache Ganpati. The five Manache Ganpati in Pune symbolise the magnitude of respect towards our history; these five Mandals are some of the oldest and the most predominant Ganpati Mandals in the history right from the commiseration of Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav. Kasba Ganpati, Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganpati, Guruji Taalim Ganpati, Tulsi Baug Ganpati and Kesariwada Ganpati are the five Manache Ganpatis.
Shri Kasba Ganpati
Known to be the “Graamdaivat” or the presiding deity of our city, this Ganpati is revered by every single Punekar. However, why Kasba Ganpati? Why not any other? Well, the legend behind Kasba Ganpati surely answers this question. Jijabai, Shivaji Maharaj’s mother, ordered the construction of the Kasba Ganpati temple after an idol of Lord Ganesha was found near the residence of Vinayak Thakar who lived quite close to Shivaji Maharaj’s residence. Since then, Kasba Ganpati has always been the presiding deity of our city due to his historical importance and the legend.
Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati
Popularly known to be the ‘Navsacha’ Ganpati along with Mumbai’s Lalbagcha Raja, Dagdusheth Halwai is one of the most revered Ganpatis in the state. Several iconic names have visited this Ganpati and have asked for “Navas” from him. The Ganpati is named after the famous sweets’ shop owner Dagdusheth who was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. The Dadgusheth Halwai Trust still carries out massive philanthropic work in the city.
Punekars were in the forefront when it came to changing some of the traditions about Ganeshotsav. Especially the Ganpati Visarjan, where devotees bid goodbye to Lord Ganesha and request him to come back the next year. The idols are immersed in rivers, due to which a lot of environmental harm was being caused to the city. Recently, most Ganpati idols which are to be immersed are made from eco-friendly materials in order to protect the city’s water supply. A lot of organisations also create mobile water tanks which are to be driven around the city for residents to use on Visarjan day!
Ganeshotsav is incomplete without the Dhol Tasha Pathaks. The absolute pride of Pune, these Dhol Tasha Pathaks used to be the ultimate sign of devotion and respect to the Manache Ganpati. The Ganpati Visarjan Miravnuk on Laxmi Road is reportedly one of Asia’s biggest and most culturally important processions. Every single member in the Dhol Pathak takes part in the Miravnuk without any expectation of money, fame or other materialistic things. Just the sheer love and affection for our beloved Bappa is good enough for these Dhol Tasha players to give their everything during the Ganeshotsav Miravnuk.
Do you know any other fascinating faces related to a Puneri Ganeshotsav? Let us know in the Facebook comments’ section! And don’t forget to tag us in your pictures!
Feature image by @captured_moments_vs